Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Madeleine & the Blue Balloon

In The Irrational Season, Madeleine L'Engle has a chapter titled The Blue Balloon. I adore Madeleine's words in general, but this selection was particularly precious. The illustration from which the title comes is a story of loss - her daughter's blue balloon on a lovely day - and of comfort - We wiped the eyes, blew the little nose, consoled the tears, did not, of course, offer a new balloon, instead were silly, waggled our ears, turned sobs to laughter, accepted loss and hurried home for dinner.

Barely nine pages long, this small chapter is packed full of encouragement. Madeleine touches on the beauty of paradox, the truth of myth, the risk of love, the joy of simplicity, the healing of reconciliation, the mystery of communion, and the freedom of letting go.

Letting go.

Accepting loss.

A recurring theme here lately.

Madeleine recounts the bittersweet path of a mother watching her child grow:
Love, and let go. Love, and let go. It's always pain, this letting go, and yet it leads to joy, and a kind of lightness which is almost physical.

Pride is heavy.
It weighs.
It is a fatness of spirit,
an overindulgence of self.
This gluttony is earthbound,
cannot be lifted up.
Help me to fast,
to lose this weight.
Otherwise, O Light one,
how can I rejoice in your
At the end of The Blue Balloon chapter, she shares:
The most difficult thing to let go is my self, that self which, coddled and cozened, becomes smaller as it becomes heavier. I don't understand how and why I come to be only as I lose myself, but I know from long experience that it so.


Greg said...

Thanks for this wonderful reflection. I haven't read "The Blue Balloon," but love the quote. Hearing L'Engle's comment that "of course" they didn't get their daughter another balloon, I couldn't help but think that most American parents would write the story like this:

"Sally lost her blue balloon and was so upset. We told her we would get her another one. She wanted it NOW. So we set off searching for a balloon store. When we finally succeeded, you should have seen Sally's shining face. In that moment, I think I felt a little bit of the joy that our Father feels when he gives us the desires of our hearts."

Kimberly said...

3 points for the modern interp.

Yes, I think the "of course" is highly significant - it's the inherent understanding that life happens, that we are not in control, and yet we go on... we follow... we persevere.

Corelle said...

I heard about her in this book I am reading " The Creative Call" She's sounds interesting...I will definitely check her out.

Kimberly said...

Well, Corelle, I'm glad you dropped by! I haven't heard of The Creative Call, so it looks like we both got to share valuable resources with each other... Thank you!